Lafayette County Highway Department saving energy, seeing clearer
WPL’s Shared Savings program provides financing for new energy-efficient lighting
While it’s a Wisconsin reality, nobody likes to get out of bed in the dark on a chilly winter morning and go outside to clear away snow. You’re usually tired and are bracing yourself against the cold wind, but at least at your house, the lights in your garage are bright enough for you to see what you’re doing so you can safely get out your snow blower or shovel. Unfortunately, the employees of the Lafayette County Highway Department were a bit in the dark when encountering the same situation.
However, now thanks to Wisconsin Power and Light Company’s (WPL’s) Shared Savings program, the 35 highway workers assigned to clear snow and ice from the 419 miles of roads in Lafayette County are no longer coming to the storage garage and finding their snow plow trucks and other equipment in the dark during a cold winter’s day or at any other time of the year. The Shared Savings program is an initiative that assists industrial, commercial and agricultural customers with identification and implementation of energy efficiency projects - and invests the capital to finance them.
“When you’re called out at all hours of the night, it’s no fun to stumble around because you can’t see where you’re going,” said Tom Jean, Highway Commissioner for Lafayette County. “The old, high-pressure sodium lights in our buildings took 15 minutes to come on, and when they did, the lighting was extremely poor. In addition, as the fixtures aged, the amount of light they gave off gradually diminished.”
WPL’s Shared Savings program stepped in and provided financing to assist the Lafayette County Highway Department in purchasing and installing new fixtures in the main garage, storage garage and the wash bay. The main garage is where the department repairs and services all its equipment, while the storage garage houses over 30 snow plows, dump trucks, graders and sign trucks. The wash bay is the “car wash” area for the vehicles and equipment. The new efficient lighting is saving energy and more importantly, giving employees the quality lighting they need.
“The Shared Savings project results were exceptional,” said Troy Pittz, an Alliant Energy Strategic Account Manager who worked with Jean and his staff. “Before the new lights were installed, looking into these big buildings was like looking into a cave. Now they have three times the light to work in.”
An added benefit to the project is that the cost of light bulbs no longer makes a big dent in the highway department’s budget. None of the bulbs have needed to be replaced since the energy-efficient lighting was installed, and the cost per bulb is now $1.50, rather than the previous price of $20.
WPL’s Shared Savings program covered the cost of purchasing and installing the equipment and the Lafayette County Highway Department is repaying the dollars through the realized energy-savings. Since the department did not have the money budgeted for the improvements, the Shared Savings program made the project possible. The taxpayers are also seeing a positive outcome with the energy savings from the project at $800 to $1,000 annually.
“County government budgets are shrinking, so spending taxpayer dollars wisely is our first priority.” Jean added, “Shared Savings has made it easy for us to follow through on that pledge.”
Shared Savings is an energy efficiency program available to business customers of Wisconsin Power and Light Company (WPL), an Alliant Energy company. Low-cost loans to purchase and install energy-efficient equipment are repaid to WPL from the customers’ energy savings. From 1987-2007, the Shared Savings program has avoided the generation of over 5 billion kilowatt-hours – enough energy to power almost 498,000 average homes for one year.
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